Henriques a No.4? I don’t think so

Alec Swann Columnist

By , Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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    Obvious allegiances aside, I have a bit of sympathy for Australia.

    To exit a tournament having failed to complete any of your three group fixtures must grate, even for the most phlegmatic of individuals.

    In the ICC Champions Trophy, Australia were certainly behind the eight ball against New Zealand, but may have been able to alter the momentum and come out on top.

    It is hardly stretching logic to suggest that Bangladesh would’ve been seen off comfortably – then again they might have not – and although England were safely on course to overhaul the Aussies’ target, teams occasionally snatch defeat from the jaws of near-certain victory, so very few predictions are 100 per cent secure.

    However, Steve Smith’s men were off the pace in their opener, recovered to be pretty good next time out before – once again at Edgbaston, which really isn’t their happiest of hunting grounds – being under par in the decider.

    In such a truncated event, where the vast majority of games have something riding on them, this kind of form – and I’m sure the South Africans would agree – is just asking for trouble and a premature business class flight home.

    Myriad factors could be presented as to why Australia fluffed their lines – a lack of adequate preparation, a much-vaunted seam attack firing on less than all available cylinders, the inclement English weather – but let’s concentrate on one in particular: Moises Henriques.

    The New South Welshman is a good, honest-as-the-day-is-long cricketer. He has a decent record, he doesn’t let anybody down and would command more plusses than minuses if a report card was to be produced.

    He isn’t, however, an international number four.

    And as long as there are 24 hours in a day, my golf game is wildly inconsistent and the American president has skin a curiously pallid shade of orange, he never will be.

    I’d have backed Mark Waugh to have produced a more convincing display in the same position, and I don’t mean the mid-1990s vintage but the 52-year-old of 2017.

    I thought the bits-and-pieces cricketer was a thing of the past, a trend that worked for a short while until it was discovered that those who specialise in a particular discipline are, by and large, more productive.

    That said, there is no reason why a cricketer like Henriques couldn’t play a role in the national side, but batting at seven or eight and bowling a few overs would be a far more natural fit. After all, square pegs really don’t go into round holes.

    As a result, a top six containing five batsmen proved to be short-sighted at best. Not fancying the chances of your five-man attack to do a job is one thing, but weakening the batting to cover the potential cracks is another.

    With a format that has accelerated at express pace to the run gluts now commonplace, it makes little sense to gamble in such a way, especially when, in Glenn Maxwell, you already have a sixth bowler.

    Yes, you expect Smith, David Warner and Aaron Finch to dictate terms and win games but limiting their available support will have a detrimental effect on too many occasions. A weak link is a weak link and any opposition would rather see Henriques walking in at second drop than Chris Lynn or any other frontline batsman.

    And the sight of Bangladesh facing India in the semi-finals should be enough of a jab in the ribs to bring about the necessary changes the next time Australia feature in an ODI.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.